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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Biryani House on University and Shattuck has closed its doors for good last year. Photo: Seung Y. Lee
Biryani House on University and Shattuck closed its doors for good last year. Photo: Seung Y. Lee

CLOSED: BIRYANI HOUSE A few bereaved Berkeleyside readers have asked what happened to the popular Indian restaurant at 2011 Shattuck Ave. While some hoped Biryani House was just temporarily closed for renovations, the bad news is that it is gone for good, according to Shifra Benedictis-Kessner, the marketing manager at the Downtown Berkeley Association. The property was sold last year to a new owner, then leased to co-working company WeWork, which started opening floors of office space there in January. [Read Berkeleyside’s story on WeWork.]

Misplaced BookCOMING SOON: THE MISPLACED BOOK Neither a brick-and-mortar bookstore nor an online retailer, Berkeley-based startup The Misplaced Book is bringing a new way to connect bibliophiles with books. The Misplaced Book sends a Book Box — which contains “books, short stories, and several locally made items” — to subscribers, according to its website. The price range for subscriptions ranges from $22 to $102 on a bimonthly basis. Officially launching Feb. 5, The Misplaced Book is offering a 10% discount to new subscribers on all boxes and plans. Simply use the coupon code “FIRSTBOOK.”

Simply Bowl opened this week. Photo: Seung Y. Lee
Simply Bowl opened this week. Photo: Seung Y. Lee

NEW: SIMPLY BOWL Making its grand opening this week at 2156 University Ave., Simply Bowl serves Japanese/Hawaiian fusion dishes, including teriyaki bowls and poke (Hawaiian raw fish salad) bowls. Simply Bowl had its soft opening two weeks ago, and plans to update and experiment with its food and beverages — so far it mainly serves hot tea — in the next few months. With the restaurant located near both UC Berkeley and Berkeley Community College, Simply Bowl plans to offer happy hours, art shows and mic nights in the future. “We definitely want to make a presence in the local community,” said Cirilo Lopez, an employee at Simply Bowl.

Melo Melo Kava Bar
Melo Melo Kava Bar Photo: MeloMelo

NEW: MELOMELO KAVA BAR As reported in Bites last week, Berkeley residents looking for an alternative bar atmosphere now have a new destination. MeloMelo Kava Bar, a coffee- and alcohol-free watering hole, opened softly this past Tuesday. As we reported in September, kava is a Polynesian drink, made from the roots of the kava-kava plant, which has a mild sedative effect. Along with a rotating selection of kava, MeloMelo is serving kombucha on tap and a weekly “kava koncotion” special. Read more on Nosh.

Photo: Kate Williams
Photo: Kate Williams

NEW: ZING CAFE Also reported in Bites, but in case you missed it, a new coffee shop has come to South Berkeley, and locals are already singing its praises on Yelp. Located right across the street from Ashby BART on Adeline, at the corner of Essex Street, Zing Café is serving Mr. Espresso coffee, deli sandwiches and pastries (including multiple flavors of cronuts). It’s a small spot, but offers several tables on its outdoor patio. Read more on Nosh.


NEW: MR. NACHO Sweet Leaf, the Telegraph Avenue home for hearty salads, has now become Mr. Nacho, a Mexican restaurant specializing in nachos. The shop will still serve its Sweet Leaf salad alongside a wide variety of nacho toppings. The name, however, may be in flux. The owners, a father and son team, have discussed naming the restaurant Panchos 2, after their original restaurant, Panchos (on Durant Avenue). Mr. Nacho is at 2468-A Telegraph Ave., Berkeley.

Seung Y. Lee is a journalist who has previously worked at the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and the Daily Californian.

Shop Talk is our regular column in which we post updates on Berkeley businesses. If you’re a Berkeley business with news, or a Berkeleysider who has spotted a change in your neighborhood or on your travels, shoot us an email with the details. Read previous Shop Talk columns, and check out Bites for the latest East Bay restaurant ne